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T-15 (reactor)

The T-15 is a Russian (previously Soviet) nuclear fusion research reactor located at the Kurchatov Institute, which is based on the (Soviet-invented) tokamak design. It was the first industrial prototype fusion reactor to use superconducting magnets to control the plasma. These enormous superconducting magnets confined the plasma the reactor produced, but failed to sustain it for more than just a few seconds. Despite not being immediately applicable, this new technological advancement proved to the USSR that they were on the right path. In the original (circular cross-section with limiter) shape, a toroidal chamber design, it had a major radius of 2.43m and minor radius 0.7m.[1]

The T-15 achieved creating its first thermonuclear plasma in 1988 and the reactor remained operational until 1995. The plasma created was thought to solve a number of issues engineers have struggled with in the past. This combined with the USSR's desire for cheaper energy ensured the continuing progress of the T-15 under Mikhail S. Gorbachev. It was designed to replace the country's use of gas and coal as the primary sources of energy. It achieved 1MA and 1.5MW injection for 1 second pulse.[2] It carried out about 100 shots before closing due to a lack of funds.[3]

From 1996 to 1998 a series of upgrades were made to the reactor, in order to conduct preliminary research for the design work on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or ITER. One of the upgrades converted the tokamak to a D-shape divertor design with a major plasma radius of 1.5m (Citation). The ITER also used superconducting magnets. These magnets were capable of reaching 100 million degrees Fahrenheit. The nuclear predecessors before such as the T-10 were capable of reaching 30 million degrees Fahrenheit. This increased temperature made it possible to introduce the electron cyclotron resonance (ECR), ion cyclotron resonance (ICR), and neutral atoms, as to maintain the reactions.

The main reason for the demise of the T-15 was that the Hungarian computer systems, which were used to perform the complex calculations of the thermonuclear plasma, lacked sufficient power. The computers failed to provide accurate data to the physicists. The inadequacy of the Hungarian computer systems forced the physicists to do the calculations by hand taking away vital resources needed for the T-15.

Despite the investments, upgrades and modern technology, the T-15 remains out of operation as of the end of 2013. Due to the accomplishments of USSR’s T-15, the French have been constructing their own T-15, which is estimated to be completed in 2016.

External links

  1. [1] Belyakov et al., The T-15 tokamak. Basic characteristics and research program, Soviet Atomic Energy, February 1982, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 103-111
  2. Superconducting Tokamak T-15 Upgrade. Kirnev et al.
  3. [2] The Second Life of Tokamak T-15, Iter newsline, 5 November 2010

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Josephson, P. R. (2000). Red atom: Russia's nuclear power program from Stalin to today. New York: W.H. Freeman.

Effects of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident on Utility Share Prices Rajiv Kalra, Glenn V. Henderson, Jr. and Gary A. Raines Quarterly Journal of Business and Economics, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Spring, 1993), pp. 52-77.